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It’s a question we’re asked at least once a day by prospective customers.  Should I go for a best of breed or all-in-one marketing stack?

In the red corner, you have the mammoth all-in-one marketing technology providers like Hubspot, Marketo and Eloqua who provide far ranging suites of marketing technology.

In the blue corner sit the specialised niche technology providers – nowhere near as all-encompassing, they have the power of integration on their side, and are able to pretty much plug and play with their peers to create a best of breed solution that meets your specific requirements.

So, what are the strengths and weaknesses of these two very different approaches to building out a sales and marketing stack?

Benefits of an all-in-one provider

In a word.  Convenience.

A single provider means a single point of contact and just one invoice per month for your accounts department to deal with.  What’s not to like about that?

Furthermore, an all-in-one solution should provide you with a single customer view, complete with a single user interface with easy access to all your functionality under a single sign on.

Having all that data in one place should make it easier to analyse and influence to prospect and customer behaviours.

Benefits of a best of breed solution

A best of breed martech stack is like going to the pick and mix sweet section at Tescos.  You can choose exactly what you like, whilst ignoring the liquorish, and as a result you pay exactly the right price for your selection on check out, and not a penny more.

Whilst you might be having to deal with a range of support agents and vendors, each one of those vendors is an expert in their particular field, so you’re likely to get a better quality of service, and you’ll generally find smaller vendors quicker to adapt to changes in the martech environment, such as Google updates or the launch of new social media platforms.

Talking about adaptability, best of breed also lets you be more agile, as you can switch solutions in and out as your requirements change.  These days, with the advent of middleman solutions such as Zapier, connecting up your tech using a no code/low code approach is a breeze, and the need for expensive and clunky custom integrations has all but evaporated.

Of course for every swing, there is a roundabout, so what are the downsides to the various approaches?

Downsides of an all-in-one provider

In another word.  Cost.

Some of the solutions out there are eye wateringly expensive.  They can also be very, very complicated, which means you’ll be paying twice over – once for the solution, and once for the consultant that knows how to use the solution.

But it’s worth paying the cost for a joined up customer view, right? 

Well, it would be, but Gartner tell us that as Marketing clouds are neither data or platform agnostic, critical data and tools outside the cloud ecosystem can’t easily share data with the suite.

So, more data silos!

What’s more, whilst all-in-one solutions should have a single, consistent interface, in the real world, as the tools have been built up over time through technical consolidation and acquisition, the reality is that they’ve more often than not constructed from disparate interfaces and tech, leading to a jarring, inconsistent user experience.

The final risk to factor in is time to launch.  All-in-one solutions can have implementation times ranging from a few weeks up to and beyond two years.  A lot can change in that time, and when it does, you’re locked in with an inflexible solution and a fixed contract.

Downsides to a best of breed solution

Multiple solutions mean multiple points of contact. And not just any old multiple points of contact.  These multiple points of contact don’t talk to each other, and like to point the finger at each other when things go wrong.

Imagine a fairly simple set up, such as your CRM passing contact data to your email marketing solution through Zapier.  Now imagine something in that set up isn’t working.

Do you talk to Zapier, your CRM provider or your email provider to get it working?

And when you do talk to them, each one in turn denies responsibility and points you in the direction of the other two parties. 

Okay, we’re exaggerating for effect, and it’s actually in all party’s best interests to get your problem fixed as no-one likes buggy software, but these situations can arise.

Despite this, there is still a huge shift towards best of breed, fuelled by the interconnectivity of modern martech.  In fact, Gartner report that 57% of marketers are leaning towards this approach

The reality is that no-one likes to pay for expensive software whilst leaving 90% of the functionality sitting up on the top shelf unused.  

A best of breed offers the best of both worlds – and integrated stack solution that gives you exactly what you need, with the flexibility to experiment and grow alongside your business. 

Tools like Zapier ensure a single source of truth (normally your CRM) can be maintained as the hub of your stack set up, whilst the spokes (marketing automation, data capture, prospecting etc.) all feed data back in, without having to craft a single line of code or bring on board an expensive consultant.

If you’re looking to build your own best of breed solution, do reach out to us – we’re only too happy to advise.

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